New year, new you, right? At least, we want to think so, but oftentimes our resolutions end up getting abandoned because we tried to start doing too much at once. This is especially true for health-related resolutions. We want to get healthy and think we have to make the big changes all at once, but too much change is hard to stick to. Instead of making a complete health routine step 1, try easing yourself into a healthier lifestyle with some of these simple healthy habits.
Drink a Glass of Water Before Meals
Most of the time, we want to get healthy so that we look good. Your diet is a huge part of that. There’s tons of advice on what to eat or what not to eat or what new “superfood” you should put in every meal. Often though, how much we eat is the more important part.
Trying to eat less than you’re used to can be pretty hard though. Your stomach has grown used to how much you usually eat, so if you eat less, it may not feel full. Drinking a glass of water before each meal will help you feel fuller with less food. Plus staying hydrated is one of the easiest and most effective healthy habits you can have.
Only Eat in the Kitchen or Dining Room
Another huge obstacle to eating less is our habit of snacking. Sometimes, we don’t even notice how much of a habit it is. Maybe you like a snack when you watch tv, or maybe you think you work better when you’re eating. The truth is, when we eat while doing a certain activity, we’re training our brain to associate that activity with eating. Say you have some chips when you watch the nightly news. Eventually, you’ll crave those chips whenever you watch the news, because you’ve taught your body that the news is when it eats.
This isn’t to say that snacks are bad. On the contrary, having several small meals instead of a few large ones is healthier for us. The trick is making sure that you’re eating because you’re actually hungry, and not because it’s become your routine.
Drink a Glass of Water in the Morning
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Most of us have that breakfast after a coffee. But before both of those things, you should drink a glass of water.
When we wake up in the morning, our bodies are dehydrated. A glass of water first thing helps re-hydrate you, giving you an energy boost. A morning glass of water will also help you stop craving that morning snack, so you can eat a healthy breakfast instead. Getting yourself hydrated early will help you digest that meal better as well, meaning your body makes energy from it sooner.
Only Use the Bedroom for Sleeping and Sex
I’m willing to bet that a large majority of us lay in bed looking at our phones at night. For some, it’s become a comforting nightly habit. And if it’s not a phone, it’s something else like reading or watching TV. Even if it’s not before bed, it can still affect your sleep habits.
Much like how we can train ourselves to eat at certain times, we can also train ourselves to do certain activities in certain places. When we use our bedrooms for activities other than sleeping, we train our brain to associate going to the bedroom with doing those things. Instead, we should teach our brains that going to the bedroom means going to sleep. That way when we’re ready for bed, we can go to our bedroom and our body will know that it’s time to wind down.
Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
This one is harder than the others, but it’s well worth it. Most of us are good at waking up at the same time every weekday, but we shirk that routine on weekends. We’re not doing anything that morning, so what could it hurt? Your weekday mornings, it turns out.
Our bodies follow circadian rhythms, which are roughly 24-hour cycles for bodily processes like sleep and heart rate. When we wake up at the same time every weekday, our circadian rhythm adapts to this schedule, teaching our body to wake up at this time. But when we sleep in on weekends, we confuse our body. It starts to get used to the new schedule, only to get thrown for a loop on Monday. We don’t get sleepy as early as we should on Sunday night because we stayed up Friday and Saturday, and our body is still on “weekend time.” Then it has to get used to the weekday schedule all over again.
Many of us wouldn’t be willing to wake up early on the weekends even if it means making Monday easier. This is because we associate waking up early with being groggy and tired. But this is exactly what having a regular sleep routine fixes for us. Once our circadian rhythms adapt to our schedule, we’ll wake up at the right time feeling chipper and energized (or at least a little more so).
If you’re going to try out only one of these healthy habits, this should be the one.
by Venn Crawford